Monday, June 17, 2013

Challenges of a New Missionary

Elder Yde and I on our way back from Soldotna.
I'm standing outside; backing up Elder Yde [pronounced wide]. We are about to go inside the mission home and email, and it's HOT!! It's so hot! It's sunny and beautiful and green, but it's baking. The car is on fire!! It's 80ºF in Anchorage. How on earth does it get 80º in Anchorage? So I don't know what I'm going to do. Although, I do have hope because a guy that we know went down to Mexico for two weeks. He said it got to 120, but he said it felt the same there as it does in here because it's more humid here. So, I'm hoping that's why it feels really, really hot right now. I'm hoping that when I set foot in Utah, I won't turn into toast.

This week we actually went on exchanges down to Soldatna. Elder Yde was with Stirling for a little while, but I stayed in Soldatna the whole time, or with the Elders in Soldatna I should say. That was good. They are good hard workers, and they teach well. There wasn't anything we really needed to be concerned about.
The new group of missionaries.
They are wonderful and we're so happy to have them here! =)
We had transfers. That was pretty intense. We helped all the new missionaries and helped them get in ad situated. We had to bring in a bomb squad to clean our apartment. It was pretty trashed. It was pretty hectic until about a day or two ago, and then we went down to Soldatna. We haven't even stayed in our apartment for the last two weeks. Well I haven't. When Elder Yde came in, we stayed in the mission home for like a week. Anyway, it's been fun; super busy; super awesome. I'm definitely learning a lot, especially about being organized. I committed to be super diligent, especially in my record keeping (no pun intended) this last transfer.

I am excited to be with Elder Yde. I'm pumped about the area; it looks like we will have more time to work in our area and help the people there. We have a few investigators that are really cool and prepared to hear the message of the gospel. Yeah, I really couldn't ask for anything more; I'm pretty happy.

Life is good. Talk to you all next week.
Elder Record, Elder Martinez and Elder Yde


Various places Elder Record has traveled as an Assistant to the President.
View AP Travels in a larger map

Q: As you have begun working with the 18 and 19 year old new missionaries, have you noticed any common challenges they face that are different from the challenges the older missionaries faced?

No, I think the struggles are pretty much the same. I think the focus should definitely be on the mental preparation like you said. That's the biggest challenge I see in both groups. People talk about how wonderful and spiritual missionary work is, but in conversation it's hardly ever discussed how stressful and challenging it is. For example, I came out very idealistic thinking that all missionaries loved being there, loved being obedient to the mission rules, and were always happy and energetic, always focusing on the work. You have the exact same struggles, attitude, and challenges you came out with. Things don't change overnight. I'm not clueless, but I guess the thought never crosses my mind that everyone wasn't perfect... sounds silly, but nobody ever really expressed the stress that's involved. However because of experiences you shared dad, and from other things I knew there would be challenges, I just never had any idea at what magnitude. I've grown so much because the Lord has helped me to look forward with hope much like it's described in 2 Nephi 31:20. So when things got really hard, the question wasn't "do I do this or not?", but "how do I get through this?" It was also important for me to know that my first source of support was my Father in Heaven, then those around me.

Anyway, that's kind of a long winded version of what I was trying to say =). Just make sure they prepare for the mental stress and not to shy away from letting people who need to know, know your struggles. One of the biggest things that causes us grief is when we find out problems people have after things have gotten out of control when we could have prevented the problem by helping out in the beginning. Spiritually people seem to be really prepared, and that is so wonderful, but missionaries tend to be way less mentally prepared for the challenges of dealing with people and working hard and effective all day. Physically I've never noticed any problems. =)...

One more thing, tell the missionaries to lock their hearts. If there is anyone in there waiting for them leave them locked inside. Don't bring them out on your mission, and don't let anyone in on your mission. A mission president, not mine =), once got up in front of his missionaries and asked very kindly, "By a show of hands, who has been promised in their patriarchal blessing that they would find their eternal companion on their mission?" Everyone, of course looked around wondering who it was, expecting to see some raised hands. Nobody raised their hands. The mission president then said, "Nobody? Then stop looking!" and sat back down.

We are expected to devote all our time and attention to serving the Lord. That is what we promise when we come out. It's not a status thing. It's not a rite of passage. It's for the Lord and about him. Your not going to be a very happy missionary if all you can see is yourself. You need to learn how to look past yourself and see others. No part of serving a mission is about you. It's about the Lord and your brothers and sisters you are here to help. If someone can't handle it mentally, things aren't magically going to change when they get here. They have to have the mindset before they come out that they can turn to the Lord, and that He can and will help. I wasn't entirely prepared to come out. When I got here I was very much overwhelmed and stressed out. However, I knew that He is mighty to save and I could turn to Him with "full purpose of heart" and He would deliver me (Mosiah 7:33). The principles found in Ether 12:27 also helped me out a ton. I'm not perfect and I'm still not perfect, but if anyone has a desire to serve the Lord in full-time missionary service, they need to understand the principle of turning to the Lord for their support if they want to be happy, have fun, and grow the way the Lord intends them to on their mission.

Ya... you can tell I've been thinking about this a lot lately =) I hope some part of that helped. It helped me understand my thoughts a little more. =)

Love, Elder Record

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